Your Next Fall Weeknight Dinner: Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Cream Sauce

Thirty-minute meals are oh-so-necessary in my life.

And when it comes to finding strategies for getting through the week, easy recipes are everything to me.

A white shallow bowl of penne in cream sauce, topped with grated cheese and fried sage leaves, with another bowl and miniature pumpkins in the background, printed with orange and white text.

I don’t know about you, but with the beginning of each new season, I start to think about whether my dinner menu rotation has gotten boring.

More times than not, I decide it definitely has.

That’s how I am feeling right now, at least. I have had the same recipes on repeat, but now that there is a new season of flavors to celebrate, I know I can easily switch things up.

Vertical overhead shot of a blue and white pot of penne pasta in cream sauce with a spoon to the right, and two white bowls of the dish topped with fried sage leaves to the left, on a blue and white checkered tablecloth with decorative miniature white and orange pumpkins.

The key to mastering a weekly dinner menu is to vary your flavors, but also keep those recipes simple and easy. Whether you are making the most of your Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, or perhaps you just want to whip up something quick over the stove, there are endless options to choose from.

If you love your carbs, start with this one. Welcome to the best fall pasta dish of your life.

Vertical shot of two white bowls of penne and cream sauce, garnished with fried sage, on a blue and white checkered cloth with decorative white and orange miniature pumpkins, and a block of Parmesan cheese.

I know, that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, but I can promise you that it isn’t. When it comes to a recipe that is as rich and creamy as this one, you will wholeheartedly agree with me the moment that you take your first bite.

Overhead vertical shot of a blue enameled pot full of penne pasta with pumpkin sage cream sauce, with a wooden spoon, on a blue and white checkered tablecloth.

Warming up with this dish is one of those experiences I want to embrace every single week.

The recipe does require a bit of multitasking, but it’s basic multi-tasking, so anyone can master this recipe the first time they make it.

While the sauce is simmering away, you can quickly fry up the sage leaves for the garnish at the same time. It all comes together in a flash, and you won’t be disappointed when it does.

Overhead vertical shot of white pasta with squash cream sauce, topped with fried sage leaves for garnish, on a blue and white checkered tablecloth with white and orange miniature decorative pumpkins.

I adore this recipe because of the rich flavors in the creamy sauce. The pumpkin and sage are natural flavor partners at this time of year, and they are very bold. Combined with the salty Parmesan cheese and heavy cream, the sauce is rich and luscious.

The addition of the crispy fried sage leaves on top provides a final variation in texture that brings an added burst of herbaceous freshness.

Vertical image of two white bowls and a blue enamel pot of penne pasta with homemade cream sauce, with grated Parmesan cheese and fried sage leaves for garnish on the plated portions.

I like to also serve this with a nice bottle of oaky wine, like a chardonnay or even a crisp sauvignon blanc. The richness of the cream sauce needs a lighter wine to balance out the flavors without overwhelming your palate.

That’s why I wouldn’t try to pair it with a rich red wine, as this choice might take over the flavor profile, and you will lose those subtle notes in the cream sauce.

Two white bowls of pasta with pumpkin cream sauce, topped with grated cheese and fried sage leaves, on a blue and white checkered cloth with miniature white and orange pumpkins, and a block of Parmesan.

If you like to host dinner parties, this is a fantastic meal to whip out because it’s simple to make, and virtually stress free.

The recipe makes four with big, hearty servings, but you can also make it a side to a main protein entree if you would like. Read more on that option at the end of the article.

But first, the recipe!

Print
A white bowl of penne pasta coated in a pale orange cream sauce and topped with fried sage leaves for garnish is at the center of the frame, on a blue and white checkered tablecloth, with another bowl of the same, a block of Parmesan, and an orange miniature pumpkin to the left and right.

Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Cream Sauce


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 dinner portions
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Description

Dress up your pasta for the season, and add our deliciously creamy Pumpkin Sage Sauce to your weekly menu rotation this fall.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup canned or homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Retain 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid for later use before draining well and returning pasta to the pot.
  2. Combine cream, pumpkin puree, Parmesan, sage, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of the pasta water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until melted.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, fry the sage leaves for garnish. Add oil to a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add sage leaves. Fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Remove from oil and set on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and stir to combine. If needed, you can add the remaining reserved pasta water in to adjust the consistency as desired. Serve immediately, with a few fried sage leaves and additional Parmesan sprinkled on top of each bowl.

Keywords: fall, cream sauce, 30-minute meals, pumpkin, sage

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Grate Cheese and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Grate 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish.

Overhead shot of uncooked penne pasta to the right, small square glass bowls of spices and cheese, a round glass bowl of pumpkin puree, and scattered sprigs of sage to the left, on a striped wood surface.

Measure all remaining ingredients as listed in the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Cook Pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Note that you can substitute gluten free pasta if needed.

Penne submerged in boiling water in a large blue and white enameled pot, on a beige and brown striped wood surface.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid before draining the pasta in a colander and returning it to the pot.

Step 3 – Make Sauce

While the pasta is cooking, add cream, pumpkin puree, Parmesan, ground sage, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the 1/3 cup of the reserved cooking liquid to a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Heavy cream is in the bottom of a saucepan, with piles of grated Parmesan, pumpkin puree, and spices, on a striped wood background.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened. This should take about 10 minutes.

A nonstick saucepan of pumpkin cream sauce, with a wire whisk, on a striped beige and brown wood surface.

Remove from heat and add butter.

Step 4 – Fry Sage Leaves

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add sage leaves.

Sage leaves frying in oil in a saucepan, on a brown striped wood background.

Fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, until crisp but not browned. Remove from oil to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Step 5 – Finish Pasta

When the sauce is done cooking, add it to the pasta in the pot. Stir to coat well.

Cooked penne pasta in a white and blue enameled pot, coated with homemade cream sauce.

If needed, you can add the remaining reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency.

Serve immediately with a few fried sage leaves and additional Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Can This Also Be Served as a Side?

I actually love to serve this dish as a side for a bigger dinner party. It goes really well with white wine braised chicken thighs, or even pork tenderloin.

It’s a great idea to serve this particular pasta dish a side with your protein entree because of how rich and creamy it is.

A white bowl of penne pasta coated in a pale orange cream sauce and topped with fried sage leaves for garnish is at the center of the frame, on a blue and white checkered tablecloth, with another bowl of the same, a block of Parmesan, and an orange miniature pumpkin to the left and right.

Whether you want to incorporate more meat into your diet, or you want to simply cut down on the amount of carbs you are ingesting in one meal, serving smaller side portions of this dish is a simple, yet satisfying, solution.

If you’re craving even more pumpkin, from breakfast to dessert, check out our full archive of recipes here.

How will you serve this autumnal fare? Tell us in the comments below, and come back to rate the recipe once you try it at home.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 31, 2011. Last updated: October 28, 2018 at 15:34 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

You're going to want to add this deliciously creamy homemade Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Cream Sauce to the weekly menu rotation ASAP. The rich flavors, hearty sauce, and fried sage leaves make this dish sing. On the table in 30 minutes, it’s ideal for busy weeknights. Get the recipe now. #foodal #fallmeals #pumpkinrecipes

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